Algae Problems

Adam Dunkley

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18 Oct 2016
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Towcester, Northamptonshire
Hi everyone, new to this forum. Hope everyone is being safe from COVID.

I’m Adam. I will try explaining my issues as best as I can and give all relevant info.

I have a planted Juwel Rio 125L freshwater aquarium, which has been set up since 28th February 2020.

I have the standard filter system in the tank, Juwel Bioflow with the upgraded 1000 LPH pump. (Medium size) the media layout is as below (from top to bottom of the casing in each basket)

poly pad
Carbon pad
Nitrax
Coarse

Fine
Cirax granules
Fine
(Gap for water flow)

I have added the Ecco skimmer too as that corner of the tank seemed ‘dead’ from a sufficient water flow from the pump, so hoped this would help pull the water through from the corner and into the filter after receiving the end of the flow from the pump.

I am suffering bad algae issues, turning my background black, ornaments black/green, and glass green slimy type. All over the plants is a grey type of covering which seems to wipe off.

water parameters are hard in my area, ammonia nitrite and nitrate are at 0.
Attached pictures to show.

any help or opinions would be appreciated.
 

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Wookii

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No, just add it all to this one. The mods might move this thread to the algae section though.
 

dw1305

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Tim Harrison

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Looks like the plant leaves are covered in detritus as well as algae. The leaves of one of your plants are edged with BBA, which is down to poor CO2 and build up of organics. Could be worthwhile cleaning your filter on a regular basis, if you don't already. And vacuuming your sand and performing regular water changes at least 50% once a week.

Your tank is very sparsely planted this often leaves them vulnerable to algae infestation for various reasons as well. So you might want to consider buying a lot more plants. Floating plants and those with leaves that grow across the surface like vallis would be good choices.

What fertz are you dosing?
Is it low-energy?
Is the substrate just sand?
What lighting do you have, and what is the duration of the photoperiod?
 
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Looks to me like you have the early onset of Black Brush Algae (BBA).

This type of algae prompts a huge debate as to its causes, but there are two recurring themes: too much organic waste, and low (or fluctuating) CO₂.

In your pictures there seems to be a lot of solid organic matter (“mulm”) accumulated on the leaves and caught up in the algae hairs. This could indicate that there’s lots of organic waste for the algae to feed on. I would recommend vacuuming as much of this out with your water changes as possible.

And I also notice that your drop checker is blue. The fact that you’re using a drop checker implies that you’re using injected CO₂ and that you’re using high light. It could be that your pictures were taken just after lights-on, in which case a blue drop checker is okay provided it goes a nice light green within two hours (the drop checker lags behind the actual CO₂ concentration). Does this happen? If not, then the insufficient CO₂ may be a cause of your BBA.

We really need to know what lights you have, and how long they’re on for. Too much light may also be a cause.
 

Adam Dunkley

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18 Oct 2016
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Location
Towcester, Northamptonshire
Hi everyone,
Thanks for the welcome and helping me out.

so I clean the leaves etc every time I do a water change and I change around 40% weekly. I have vacuumed the filter out a few times and always clean the pump etc.

I have started dosing seachem flourish as I thought a fertiliser might help due to some nutrient missing in there.However this hasn’t made it any better or worse. (Dose recommend amount weekly after water change)

Co2 is injected yes, and was blue because the lights had only been on for a few mins. Drop checker is always a nice green before lights off etc.

I am very hesitant about the co2 injecting to much and poisoning my fish as a few weeks ago this happened and they all went heaven and back. Lol. Managed to save them.

I use seachem prime conditioner and seachem pristine weekly when doing a water change.

the lights are standard Juwel multilux led. I think it comes standard with day bulb at front and nature bulb at rear. Lights are on 4pm - 10pm, co2 is 3pm - 9pm.
 

sparkyweasel

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Welcome! :)

. . . and nitrate are at 0.
Nitrate is an important plant nutrient.
dosing seachem flourish
Unfortunately Flourish does not contain nitrate, or phosphate. A complete fertiliser might be a better choice.

More plants would help to establish a balance in favour of plants and against algae, preferably fast-growing species, stem plants, eg; Hygrophila, Hornwort, Indian Fern, Elodea, Najas, and/or floating plants, eg Salvinia or Frogbit.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I have started dosing seachem flourish
<"Seachem Flourish"> is a micronutrient (or trace element) source, but it isn't a complete fertiliser mix (like "TNC Complete" etc).

There is nothing wrong with any of these proprietary mixes, but they <"are an expensive option">, if you buy all the products you need to supply all the fourteen mineral nutrients.
Co2 is injected yes,
Your plants can only make use of that extra carbon if all the other nutrients are available, it is the <"assembly line principle">.

I'm not a CO2 user, so I'll leave other members to advise you on that.

If you have a <"floating plant"> it takes carbon availability (and algae) out of the equation, and you know that any deficiencies in growth are nutrient based.

cheers Darrel
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
The Nitrax pads remove nitrates
That is an interesting question. <"Fluval seem to suggest"> that the inner sections of the sponge foster anaerobic denitrification, and the outer sections the aerobic oxidation of ammonia to nitrate and nitrate. Let's just say I'm dubious, and if it was true it wouldn't <"necessarily be a good thing">.

They also suggest that this sponge promotes plant growth, while reducing algal growth, which is <"quite an impressive claim">. My guess would be that the only impressive thing about <"the sponge is its price">.

cheers Darrel
 

Adam Dunkley

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Location
Towcester, Northamptonshire
Hmm, ok guys. Thanks for all your thoughts.

maybe I should plant up some more with floating plants too and see how that goes then maybe use TNC complete or try removing the nitrate sponge.

I’m guessing we are all agreed the plants aren’t getting something they need and the algae is?
 

sparkyweasel

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I don’t know what to do to get them up. Lol.
No matter what I do they are always 0-0-0
Remove the Nitrex (just in case it's working in your case) and use a complete fertiliser. Start with the TNC Complete, then later on we might get you into mixing your own ferts; it's a lot cheaper, but a good ready-mixed product gives you convenience for a price.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I don’t know what to do to get them up. Lol. No matter what I do they are always 0-0-0
It is likely to be the test kit. You shouldn't have any detectable ammonia (NH3/NH4+) or nitrite (NO2-), but all tanks will have some nitrate (NO3-).

Have a look at <"Nitrate tests?">.

You should be able to get NO3 levels for your tap water from your water supplier. Because of <"where you live"> you are likely to have ~20ppm NO3 in your tap water.

cheers Darrel
 

Wookii

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I don’t know what to do to get them up. Lol.
No matter what I do they are always 0-0-0

It looks like you're getting plenty of help now, but to summarise your action plan:

1. Remove the Nitrax pads just in case they are in some small way living up to their marketing claim.
2. Buy some TNC Complete and dose the amount recommended for a high tech tank (Amazon) - you'll have to double check this elsewhere on this forum, but I believe the general recommendation is 2-3x the standard daily dose. In addition, if your substrate is just sand, you could consider adding some root tabs (Seachem, Tropica etc) under any new and existing plants to aid their growth.
3. Turn your CO2 on earlier. The drop checker needs to be green just before your lights go on, not after. It can take up to three hours to achieve that, sometimes more in some tanks.
4. Increase planting density (assuming that doesn't impeded your aesthetic goals with the tank). @sparkyweasel gave you a good list to choose from in post 9.
5. Consider adding some clean-up crew (again if they fit with your goals for the tank) - shrimp (probably Amanos as your angel might eat any cherries)/ horned nerite snails. Whilst they may not have much impact on your existing algae, they will certainly assist in reducing future growth providing you sort the above issues out.
6. You have a fairly high bio-load with your current stocking levels, so I'd also increase water changes also - maybe 75% weekly, or stick to your 40% and do it twice weekly if that fits in with 'life' - certainly until the algae starts to recede.

Once you've implemented all the above, give it a few weeks and see if it makes a difference. The algae should hopefully diminish on its own, but some species like BBA can be stubborn to get rid of, even if they no longer grow any further. In that case you can consider getting some Seachem Excel and a small (1mm) syringe and misting some of the algae covered leaves with it (with the filter off for 15 minutes) - sticking to the total recommended tank dose. Before doing so though I would check on here with the knowledgeable folks above on how your specific plants might react to Excel treatment (most are fine, but some delicates ones can melt).
 

Tim Harrison

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So to sum up...

Buy some TNC Complete and dose according to instructions
Plant a load more plants, especially ones like vallis that grow leaves across the surface, and add some floaters.
Rationalise your filter media, get rid of the Nitrex. You might also want to get rid of the poly pad it does very little for water clarity and reduces flow quite considerably.

Further, turn your gas on a couple or three hours before lights on so that you get a lime green drop checker at lights on and all the way till lights off. Effective, efficient, and consistent CO2 implementation is key.

Obviously, do this on a day you can monitor the gas flow and adjust accordingly to prevent gassing your critters.
If you're not too sure it'll help if you read this first CO2 MEASUREMENT USING A DROP CHECKER
 

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